February in Winnipeg is known for its bitter cold, but one warm spot in the deep freeze each year is the Festival du Voyageur.
The annual celebration of all things franco-Manitoban announced its lineup of sights, sounds and flavours for the 2023 edition of the festival Tuesday, and true to form, it features some of the best artists in western Canada — in both official languages.
Executive director Darrel Nadeau says the event is coming back with a bang after years of hybrid events due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our last full in-person edition was in 2020, so three years of waiting,” Nadeau said.
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“We’ve received a lot of generous support from sponsors and government funds, so we’re ready for a festival that’s bigger and better than ever, which will be a great way to kick off a reopening after the pandemic.”
Nadeau said this year will include interactive sculptures, as well as work by a number of Indigenous visual artists.
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This year’s festival runs from Feb. 17-26 in the historic St. Boniface district, and includes perennially-popular activities like the beard-growing contest, historical interpretations, fiddling and jigging contests, snow sculptures, and voyageur games — including leg wrestling, log sawing, and a pillow fight.
For concertgoers, the festival continues its tradition of focusing on local artists — from across the francophone, anglophone, Metis, and First Nations communities — alongside out-of-town acts that share the voyageur spirit.
The 2023 musical roster features local notables like Andrina Turenne, Brandi Vezina, Dr. Henry Band, DJ Co-op, Kelly Bado, Matt Foster, The Duhks, Al Simmons, and Sweet Alibi … among dozens of others from rock to jazz to funk to traditional Metis fiddle music.
Susan Aglukark, Terra Lightfoot and former Winnipegger Tom Jackson are among the big visiting names performing on the festival’s stages next month.
Tickets for western Canada’s largest winter festival went on sale Tuesday.
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